The Russian defence ministry has launched a tender for a light utility aircraft to be used as a training platform for paratrooper parachute jumping. Its initial order will be for two aircraft, but a total of 20-30 will eventually be sought.

Polyet and the Smolensk Aviation Plant have responded, with offers of the Antonov An-3 and Technoavia SM-92T Turbo-Finist. Russian paratroopers currently use outdated An-2 biplanes, around 200 of which are in the inventory, but many are not airworthy. The An-3 is a turboprop-powered conversion of the design that uses an OMKB-developed, Baranov-built 1,400hp (1,045kW) TVD-20M engine. About 20 such conversions have been performed so far for civilian users.


Antonov and Polyet developed the special paratrooper An-3 version last year. This meets the defence ministry's requirement to carry 12 fully equipped paratroopers. The SM-92T is a turboprop version of the SM-92 Finist, produced in Smolensk since the late 1990s, with 26 airframes delivered so far. It can carry 10 passengers or 700kg (1,540lb) in cargo, compared with the An-3's totals of 12 troops and 1,800kg, respectively. The types have sticker prices of Rb40 million ($1.7 million) and Rb50 million, respectively.

The SM-92 is a more advanced design than the An-3, featuring highly curved P-12 aerofoils with enhanced lift capability at low speeds, developed by TsAGI for next-generation agricultural and utility aircraft. The type can also reach a defence ministry-specified altitude of 13,800ft (4,200m) in 12-14min, compared with 30min for the An-3.

Smolensk holds an order for two rocket- and machine gun-armed SM-92Ps from Russia's border guard, which is seeking additional examples with Russian engines, rather than the current Czech-supplied powerplants, while Venezuela has also expressed interest in such a version. Moscow-based MMPP Salyut has teamed with Ukraine's Ivechenko-Progress and Motor Sich on a turboprop version of the 450hp AI450 certificated in a basic turboshaft version and as an auxiliary power unit for the Antonov An-148 regional jet. Two An-3s are meanwhile on order for Kazakhstan's border guard.

Source: Flight International